The people, especially the business community, must strengthen their capacity and resilience for paying taxes, so that Bangladesh can boldly tackle the challenges of LDC (least developed country) graduation with an elevated revenue stream.
National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem made the remark at a consultative meeting on Thursday. At the same event, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal assured businesses that taxation – under the next budget for FY24 – will not be a burden.
The duo was speaking at the 43rd meeting of the NBR Consultative Committee organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and NBR on the National Budget 2023-24 at a city hotel.
NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem said, “Bangladesh will attain LDC graduation, and there are some challenges. We have to support investment, reduce facilities to local companies, eliminate import barriers, and increase collection of revenue.
“We have to overcome these issues. So, we must strengthen our capacity to pay taxes, so that we can tackle the challenges of LDC graduation with the help of increasing revenue.”
Muneem further said, “The next budget will make people from all walks of life, particularly the businesses, happy. We want an investment and business friendly environment in the country. We organised a pre-budget discussion meeting with different stakeholders in this regard.
“We are now analysing their recommendations. We are optimistic that the next budget will make businesses happy.”
He added, “The NBR has been working to reform various policies to make a conducive environment for supporting industries, so that more revenue can be collected.
“At first, we should increase our capacity to pay VAT and taxes. This will help the board in expanding the tax net. We have to be more competitive globally.”
Muneem urged businesses to produce high value-added products and diversify Bangladesh’s export basket to better compete with international markets. The NBR is working to support different industries to achieve this goal.
He pointed out, “We cannot attain LDC graduation by producing low value-added products while importing expensive fuel, energy and raw materials.”
Muneem added that the NBR is gradually going to digitise their systems. Currently, there is no need for hardcopy during return submissions.
He continued, “We want to keep the economy stable to increase our USD reserves. So we have to focus on export diversification. We do not want to get involved in any disputes. Instead, we want to resolve issues through negotiation, and collect more revenue.
“We are working to widen the tax net through major reforms.”
‘Next budget to make businesses, people happy’
Addressing the same event, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the upcoming budget for FY24 will be people-oriented and there is nothing to be concerned about.
He added, “Businessmen will be happy with the next budget. No one will be misled. The upcoming budget will be for the benefit of the people. The economy is now in recession all over the world. But the private sector is taking the economy of Bangladesh forward.
“I appreciate the people's excellent contribution to our economic growth, overcoming several barriers including the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.”
Kamal said the global economic growth projection is estimated at 2.9 per cent this year, down from 3.5 per cent posted last year. However, Bangladesh' economic growth is over 7 per cent. The feat was possible because of the outstanding resilience of the people.
He then pointed out, “Bangladesh will emerge as one of the world's 20 largest economies by 2031. We will prepare the budget in the coming days in such a way so that we will not need loans anymore.
“We will take in account the recommendations forwarded by different stakeholders in the next budget.”